How to Train Your Dog to Wear Booties

How to Train Your Dog to Wear Booties

Some of our most beloved gear has a break-in period, and the same is true for your dog’s gear, especially dog booties. So if you’re trying to hold in your laughter while your dog has been dancing around like a high-stepping pony in an effort to fling off their new shoes, rest assured, it's a normal reaction. It's pretty rare that any dog likes booties at first try-on, but with a good sense of humor, some patience, and these tips below, your dog's twinkle toes will wear off in no time!

Dog booties can be an essential piece of winter gear for them, providing comfort and protection against the elements. Although dogs don't always love booties at first, they will come to love the benefits, like protection from:

  • Ice-balls forming between their toes if they’ve got long fur
  • Salt and chemicals on city sidewalks
  • Sliding around on icy surfaces
  • Cold temps
  • Rocky sharp surfaces 
  • Dry pads cracking on hikes

The humans here at Wilderdog also like to pack booties in our backpacks in case of a paw injury during the summer months. We don't usually start the hike with the booties on unless we're traveling long stretches over rough granite terrain. It gives us extra peace of mind to know that if one of our dogs gets a cut on their foot or a torn nail, we can put their booties on and get back to the trailhead without trying to carry out a 70-pound canine. That being said, we have trained our dogs ahead of time to tolerate their booties. So without further ado, here are some of the tips we have used to help our own dogs put their best foot forward in their new kicks.

Getting Your Dog Used to Their Wilderdog Booties

1. Measuring for the Right Fit

First, you will want to ensure that your dog has the right size of booties. You can do this by laying a yardstick on the ground and having your dog put one of its paws on the stick. Measure the widest spot of their foot, and be sure they're putting all of their weight on their foot to get the correct fit. Once you get a measurement, add an inch to the number. So a dog whose paws measure at 2 ½ inches, after adding an inch, would have the measurement of 3 ½ inches, putting them at a size medium. You can find the measurements for your dog's paw below.

Wilderdog Bootie Measurements:

Small: 3" wide x 5⅜" tall
Medium: 3½" wide x 5⅜" tall
Large: 4" wide x 5½" tall

When you are putting on your dog's booties, you will want to make sure the velcro is as TIGHT as it can possibly go to keep the booties on. It's not uncommon for dogs to get the zoomies and have one of their booties go missing in some fluffy snow. If this does happen, we designed the booties with a neon color so they are easier to spot. And unlike other booties, Wilderdog sells individual booties so that you don't have to purchase a whole new set. 

2. Familiarize Them With Booties

Helping your dog find the right footing in their new shoes starts with familiarizing them with their booties. You can do this by letting them smell their booties and rewarding them with treats anytime they interact with them. You won't want to have them strut their new set right out of the package - make sure they have plenty of time to get used to their shoes before heading out on any adventures.

3. Practice with the Paws

Your dog might not be used to you handling their paws, so before you even try to put their booties on, make sure that they don't mind you holding each one of their feet. Practicing holding each one of their paws for a couple of minutes a day and rewarding them with treats can go a long way.


4. Take it Slow

Once your dog is used to you handling their paws, you can start putting their booties on. We recommend starting with one foot at a time and giving your dog a treat after you get each bootie on. Remember to be patient, don't be shy with the treats, and practice multiple times a day!

5. Distraction is Key!

Lastly, once all the boots are on, use the art of distraction and immediately set off on a good walk or a hike. Sooner than later, they'll forget they have anything on their paws. Better yet, they will begin to associate their booties with hikes. Embrace the doggy dance that comes with getting used to booties – you might even miss it once they start to walk like a dog again.

What Should I Look for in Dog Booties?

These boots were made for walking, running, zooming, and a lot more! But not all booties are the same, and some are designed with specific purposes in mind. Prior to making our own, we'd tried out so many different types of booties. They just would not stay on our dogs' paws and searching for a lost black or gray bootie while hiking can be like looking for a needle in a haystack!

Our bootie design was born out of the frustration we’ve experienced firsthand, so we teamed-up with veteran sled dog racers to create boots that their sled dogs wear in the Iditerod. You might notice our booties don't look like human hiking boots; there's no stiff sole because dogs don’t need support where humans do.

Wilderdog booties are made with a lightweight stretchy fabric for breathability, and the top and bottom of the bootie have a rubber grip for extra traction on snow, ice, or slick granite. The sock-like structure won’t interfere with your pup if it starts to roll or flip. This creates a lighter, better fitting bootie that will actually stay on your pup’s paws for long distances.

Wilderdog booties are made mainly for winter use and to protect paws during hikes. They can be used on summer walks to provide a barrier between your dog's padding and the hot pavement, but always do an 8-second touch test. If the pavement is too hot for you to touch for 8 seconds, reschedule your walk for another time.

How to Care for Dog Booties:

Wilderdog Booties are trail-tested and super durable, but here are a couple of tips to keep them in tip-top condition:

  • Get any sand/dirt/gunk out of the velcro to keep them lasting.
  • Lay booties out to dry between activities.
  • Try to wipe off any mud or dirt before washing on gentle.
  • Air-dry booties, don't dry in the dryer!

At Wilderdog, we love helping dogs discover their next adventure with their new gear. Subscribe to our email list to get updated with more blogs about topics like backpacking with your dog, and the occasional interview with some remarkable canines (okay – we interview their humans, but it's mainly about the dogs). And, if you subscribe now, you'll receive 10% off on your first purchase as a thank you for joining our pack!

See you out there!